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Panel: Busy kids mean less crime

Valley Industry Association hosts discussion with local experts

Posted: November 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Capt. Paul Becker, left, of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, Ken Wiseman, CEO of AMS Fulfillment, and John March, operations director for the Sheriff's Youth Foundation, address VIA members this week at the Valencia Country Club.

Businesses that hire at-risk youth help the entire community by combatting crime, a panel of experts said at a Valley Industry Association luncheon this week.

“Giving kids something to do between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. keeps them from getting into trouble,” said John March, operations director for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Youth Foundation. “It keeps them from getting into trouble.”

Crime goes down in areas with programs such as the one run by the foundation, which helps students with academic and job-preparation skills and provides after-school activities and sports, March said.

Panelists said the support of the entire community is needed to keep young people engaged and help them become productive members of the community.

Citing AMS Fulfillment as an example of a local business making a difference, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Paul Becker said jobs the company provides to young people at risk are helping tremendously.

The Valencia-based company first hired five young people from the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation-run program in Val Verde, said Ken Wiseman, CEO and managing partner for AMS Fulfillment.

“Five very well-dressed men and women came in with resumes,” Wiseman said. “We interviewed them as if they were going for C-level (corporate) jobs.”

The first group of new hires contained model workers, Wiseman said. So the company asked for seven more young people. By the end of the summer, it had 27 young people hired from the program.

“Many of the kids were holding the (safety) net for their families,” said Wiseman, whose firm was honored as Business of the Year earlier this month by the California Association of Enterprise Zones. “Their AMS paycheck was paying Grandma’s rent, buying a car to bring their siblings to school and putting food on the family table.”

March said the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation may open another program in Canyon Country.

“In many families, both spouses are working and they can’t supervise their kids or help with homework after school,” March said.



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